When teammate Mike Trumbo was asked how often he has seen Trout take a swing off balance, especially on his front foot—the giveaway that a hitter has been fooled—he said, "Hardly ever. The only time he gets out front is with his hands. His body never leaks."
Says Angels assistant G.M. Scott Servais, "He's as good as I've ever seen at knowing where the outside corner is. That's 90 percent of our game: the four or five inches on the plate or off the plate. You may see guys in a two- or three-week period when they're in the zone. But you don't see it with a guy all the time. Except for him."
In recent years the Angels have toed the line more than any other club when it comes to commissioner Bud Selig's recommendations for signing bonuses relative to draft position—known in the industry as slot money. No team went over slot in the five years before the 2009 draft fewer times than Los Angeles. Bane and Morhardt let the Trouts know they would draft Mike only if they knew he would take slot money, which would be $1.215 million for the 25th pick. Early on, the Trouts indicated that wouldn't be a problem. As the draft drew near, however, word began to leak that the Trouts wanted as much as $3 million. "Mike's stock was rising," Jeff says. "We upped the number a little bit. [Morhardt] was upset with me. It probably wasn't one of our better moments, looking back."
A few hours before the draft, as the Angels' executives and scouts gathered in their war room, Morhardt called his old teammate.
"Jeff, we've been talking about Mike the whole year."
"Mo, guys are calling. Teams are offering a million more than slot."
"You said he would sign."
"I know. But it's a lot of money."
"Your boy is going to get to 25, and I'm going to take him and sign him. Six years from now you'll get all your money back."
"Mo, you've got to do what you've got to do."